Amsterdam and Berlin are two of Europe’s best-connected capital cities. While you could easily fly between the two destinations, it’s cheaper and easier to travel by train. The 399-mile journey takes as little as 6 hours 22 minutes, which means you can have a canal-side lunch and still make it to downtown Mitte for dinnertime. If you’re considering travelling by rail, we’ve analysed the best train options below.
All trains depart from Amsterdam Centraal, the city’s main train station. Conveniently located in the heart of the capital, it was designed by Pierre Cuypers, who also designed the Rijksmuseum. All trains terminate at the steely Berlin Hauptbahnhof, close to the Government District. While most people opt for a direct train where possible, trains with one or two changes are more frequent and just as quick. Most routes stop at Hannover around two-thirds of the way through the journey.
Deutsche Bahn is the only train operator that serves this route, which makes planning your trip a little easier. Germany’s national railway company offers a fleet of high-speed InterCity and ICE trains between the two capital cities. Direct trains commonly use the InterCity trains which, while not as glamorous as the ICE trains, still reach 125mph (200km/h). If you’ve opted for a train that requires a change, you might get lucky and land yourself a short trip on one of the newer ICE trains. These reach up to 186mph (300 km/h) and feature comparatively high-spec interiors.
Passengers can choose from two classes: second-class and first-class. On InterCity trains, second-class is comfortable enough. Seating is generally unidirectional in an open-plan saloon, though there are some tables for four people. Most first-class carriages are open-plan saloons, though some trains feature the more traditional six-seat compartments with a side door. On the ICE trains, there’s a little more legroom in second-class with a plug socket at every seat, while in first-class passengers can sit solo in comfy, leather seats.
For the most part, InterCity and ICE trains have a bistro car onboard, selling tea and coffee, alcoholic and soft drinks, snacks and hot dishes. Unlike most onboard restaurants, hot food is served on china dishes rather than a paper tray. Those travelling in first-class can order food and drinks to their seats too. ICE trains also offer free WiFi in all carriages, special zones for using mobile phones and quiet travel and free newspapers for first-class travellers.
There are two types of tickets available to purchase in advance: Flexpreis and Flexpreis Plus or Sparpreis and Super Sparpreis. Flexipreis is a full-price flexible ticket that can be bought online or on the day of travel for a fixed price. These are refundable and can be used on any train, so there’s no need to make a seat reservation. Flexipreis Plus is the same as Flexipreis, but offers better refund conditions and includes seat reservations. Sparpreis is a limited-availability advance ticket that only allows travel on that specific train. Prices vary, and changes and refunds are not permitted.
The route between Amsterdam and Berlin is well served, with trains every two hours and even more options if you’re willing to hop off at Hannover in between. The earliest train from Monday to Saturday is at 05:02, which arrives just in time for brunch at 11:22. The latest train departs at 17:10 and arrives six hours later at 23:07 via Hannover.
Rates and book tickets
You can book trains up to six months before your departure date, although dates after the mid-December timetable change usually only open in mid-October. Tickets from Amsterdam to Berlin start at €37.90 for second-class tickets and €56.90 for first-class tickets. Children aged six years and under go free too, with no ticket required. Plus, children aged 6–15 years go free when accompanied by a fare-paying adult.
We recommend booking tickets through Omio, a leading European train ticket comparison website guaranteed to find the cheapest available rate. The booking process is easy and takes just a couple of minutes, and you don’t even have to create an account either. Book your tickets at Omio.com.
Where to stay in Berlin on a budget
Berlin is backpacker and budget-friendly, with plentiful hostels and affordable hotels for cash-strapped travellers. Many of these are located within walking distance of Berlin Central Station too, so you can hop straight off the train and into your room.
A&O Berlin Hauptbahnhof is a stone’s throw from the station and a popular option for backpackers on a shoestring budget. It was totally refurbished in 2019 too, so the rooms are refreshingly modern, clean and spacious. There’s a lively bar with billiards and table football in the hotel lobby, conference rooms for those looking to mix business with leisure and a rooftop terrace bar for sunset tipples. There’s a well-equipped kitchen for those looking to push their pennies further too.
Adina Apartment Hotel Berlin Mitte is ideal for travellers looking for a budget bolthole without the backpackers. Affordably priced at under €100 per night, the hotel offers a range of air-conditioned apartments with fully-equipped kitchens, separate living and dining areas and king-size beds. The windows are soundproofed too. There’s even an indoor pool and a gym to help burn off all of that delicious Currywurst.
For a hotel as arty as its surroundings, Arte Luise Kunsthotel is an excellent option. Billed as a “gallery overnight stay”, fifty local artists have been let loose on the former-palaces walls to create a space that truly captures the heart and spirit of the city. It’s within spitting distance of the Reichstag building and a short and easy stroll from the station too. Guests can choose from a range of single and double bedrooms, some with bathtubs and courtyard views. The hotel restaurant serves up German and Meditteranean fare out on the spacious courtyard terrace too.